July 12, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
This is English country living at its finest. Set in the quaint village of Evershot in the heart of the Dorset Downs, Summer Lodge is a luxurious English Country House retreat. Named by Harpers and Queen as one of the Best 100 Places in the World, Summer Lodge arranges for its guests a host of country pursuits—horseback riding, fishing, golfing, shooting—though many of the distinguished clientele prefer simply to enjoy the relaxation and serenity of the hotel's exquisite grounds. Relax in the Spa or by the beautiful swimming pool (housed in a glass conservatory), play croquet on the lawn or a game of tennis, work-out at the gym with your own personal trainer, take traditional tea in the afternoon, and sample the gastronomic delights at the award-winning restaurant. Accommodations are exceptional; the 20 guestrooms and four suites are individually decorated and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including large plasma screen TV and DVD, satellite TV and Internet access. Choose the master bedroom for a truly unforgettable stay. Room One was originally designed for famed writer Thomas Hardy and boasts a magnificent open fireplace and four poster bed overlooking the beautifully manicured English country gardens. Though you can't go wrong with the Ivy Cottage and its private hot tub in the courtyard garden.
With some superb packages now on offer at the Summer Lodge, why wait to reserve a well-deserved vacation? 3 nights for the price of 2 is available until December 31, 2006, and includes full English breakfast, morning newspaper, evening turndown, complimentary use of the Health Club, and 20 percent off treatments in the Spa. The Pampering Package is available until December 31, 2006, and includes: two nights accommodations (Superior Room), full English breakfast daily, Matis Total Youth Facial, Back, Neck and Shoulder massage.
July 11, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
The Hotel Negresco is a legend, its pink dome a symbol of the French Riviera, its name evoking the essence of "art de vivre." For over a century, the national historic monument has dominated the Promenade des Anglais, overlooking the Bay of Angels and the scenic Mediterranean. Situated on the seafront promenade on the beach, the hotel is like a living museum, filled with antiques, oil paintings, and contemporary art. Each of the 121 guestrooms and 24 suites are individually decorated in styles spanning the historic spectrum from Louis XIII to Art Deco. The Michelin award-winning restaurant The Chantecler is celebrated as one of the best in Nice. From now until September 20, 2006, take advantage of the Prestige Package which includes daily breakfast, a welcome gift upon arrival, and complimentary access to the property's secluded private beach, "Le Neptune." From $445.
July 10, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Utell has just announced a fantastic promotion, with rates up to 50 percent off the normal rack rates at many of their luxury hotels worldwide. Participating hotels include the Hotel Majestic Barcelona, the elegant neoclassical landmark on Paseo de Gracia in the heart of the city, Le Soleil Hotel and Suites, the award-winning boutique gem in Vancouver, the Inn at Lost Creek, Telluride's romantic and charming inn named one of the best hotels in the world by leading travel magazines, and Grand Hotel Villa San Mauro, with panoramic views overlooking Caltagirone, Sicily. When making a booking, choose "Great Rate" or "Utell Luxury Hotel Promotion."
Jean Paul Gaultier had the right idea. He camped out in the Victor Hugo Suite at Le Pavillon de la Reine for a year when his house was renovated. Indeed, you couldn't ask for a better residence in the City of Light. The historic boutique hotel is brimming with 17th century details: elegant tapestries, beautiful antiques, and enormous wood beams grace the ceilings of the guest rooms.
In a city steeped in history, the Marais district stands out for its fashionable pre-Revolution townhouses, tiny alleys lined with exquisite boutiques and restaurants, and lively nightlife. And within this marvelous neighborhood, the Pavillon de la Reine has the remarkable location directly on the Place des Vosges, the oldest public square of its kind in Paris. Inaugurated as place Royale in 1612, Henry IV built the square to celebrate the wedding between his son, Louis XIII, and Ann of Austria. The area was thus transformed into the most fashionable and luxurious area of Paris. The Place des Vosges is comprised of 36 symmetrical houses with pink brick and slate roofs, surrounding a large and charming square.
The Pavillon de la Reine is an oasis within this bustling activity-- tucked away in a flowering courtyard, just minutes from the Bastille Opera House and the Picasso Museum. Each of the 56 rooms and suites-- from the modern duplex suite to the historical deluxe rooms-- is uniquely decorated and full of character. Historical details are balanced by a full array of modern amenities (like flat screen TVs), thus creating a unique fusion of modern and ancient styles. The hotel is privately owned by a French family, and the ambience takes on the feel of an intimate, private residence: pour yourself a drink at the honesty bar, eat breakfast in the atmospheric vaulted cellar, and enjoy a wood fire burning in the large fireplace in the winter. Of course this pied-a-terre offers all the comforts of a grand hotel, complimented by thoughtful, discreet service. And the hotel's guests gush their praises: La Pavillon de la Reine was awarded the 2005 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice award, a real testament to the quality and sophistication of the hotel.
After an impressive six-year renovation, and a $36 million investment, the Musee de l'Orangerie has reopened at long last. Monet's series of waterlilies are perhaps the most monumental work of his lifetime: the artist spent 30 years captivated by the light on the waterlily pond at his home in Giverny, and managed to capture this mysterious light, and the changing seasons, in his large Abstract canvases that wrap around the walls of the museum. These eight paintings are enormous: over six feet high and one is over 50 feet long. The artist donated them to France, and they were hung at l'Orangerie in 1927, a year after his death. In the 1960's, the government attempted a renovation of the museum that holds the paintings, which failed miserably, and so for years, the nymphéas (as they are called) sat forgotten and neglected.
No longer. The museum re-opened in mid-May, and presents the paintings as Monet initially intended them to be viewed. Natural light floods through the ceiling; the white walls curve and bend to accommodate the canvases. The architecture is as stunning as the paintings. The water lilies are housed on the ground floor, while the downstairs showcases the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works, including a corridor of Renoir, Matisse, Derain, and Modigliani.
Tickets are EUR 6.50, and individuals are only allowed in the museum from 12:30-7 pm, as groups tour the museum in the mornings. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. A warning: the lines assembled outside can snake around the building. Reserve your tickets ahead, and you'll skip the wait entirely. Though there are worse things than standing in the sunshine in the Jardin des Tuileries.
Now is the time to go to Paris. The French team has made it to the finals of the World Cup (Allez Les Bleus!), the Tour de France has commenced, and Les Soldes--the annual summertime sales-- mean incredible bargains at the world's most beautiful boutiques (often over 50 percent off). After a few days in the City of Light-- wandering the alleys in the Marais, checking out the newest museums, soaking up the sun outside the Louvre and Notre Dame, shopping the Soldes-- I've picked up a few tips which I want to share with our readers on The Informed Traveler. Today is devoted to Paris.
July 3, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
SMINTAIR offers every passenger refuge from daily stress and restriction, an island of tranquillity, a World of it's own in the skies... Although innovative, SMINTAIR will treat it's passengers like the guest of an international Grand Hotel. It is an obligation to SMINTAIR to bring back the exclusivity in flying encountered in the 1960s and dearly missed by so many. The classic ambience pared [sic] with today's technology will make flying SMINTAIR a unique experience.So states Smintair on its website. A German entrepreneur has announced plans for a luxury airline that allows its passengers to smoke. Smintair (no, the name doesn't come from the little box of post-cigarette mints; it's an acronym for Smoker's International Airways) is slated to launch in March with flights from Dusseldorf to Tokyo's Narita International on two Boeing 747 aircraft. The flights will offer 30 first class and 108 business class seats, with abundant leg room.
Allowing our guests to smoke is one of the freedoms we are happily prepared to grant. Non-smokers will find the cabin air more refreshing than on any other flight with any other airline, as SMINTAIR adds fresh outside air to the conditioning system! This is more expensive, as it burns more fuel, but it is seen as an additional service to our guests... As the World's first smoker's airline, SMINTAIR is entering many uncovered niches in aviation, designed to give the traveller maximum pleasure out of their flight experience. SMINTAIR spends more than three times the amount usually invested on passenger's nourishment. Signature recipes created by internationally renowned chefs will make each meal a feast. Charming and beautiful flight attendants in uniforms designed by famous couturiers are there to take the very best care of you. Every two years, a new designer will be elected to keep the uniform design a la mode.Marketwatch is skeptical; Smintair needs to raise at least 40 million euros for an operating license from the German federal aviation authority. Time will tell if this baby will actually get off the ground. Related Articles: BBC News, German Plans Airline for Smokers Gridskipper, "Smokes on a Plane"
June 30, 2006
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Starting July 1, 2006, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts is slated to take over management of Scotland's destination golf resort. The 209-room resort has a spectacular location in the renowned "home of golf," just two miles from the medieval town of St. Andrews and the acclaimed Old Course, and surrounded by 10 golf courses in the vicinity. Overlooking the River Tay estuary and the North Sea, the hotel and its two clifftop championship courses—The Torrance and The Devlin—boast panoramic views. St. Andrews Bay Golf Resort also features five dining outlets, a 3,500 sq ft spa and health club, and excellent conference facilities. The new management anticipates a GBP 10 million refurbishment, which will renovate the existing facilities over a few years time.
Let the countdown begin. The Tour de France is set to kick off in July, and all eyes are on this year's post-Lance race, the exciting 93rd Tour. And for the best vantage point to view the finish of the Tour de France at the Place de la Concorde, the Hotel de Crillon is the place to be. Overlooking the finish line in the heart of Paris, the legendary Crillon is a unique historical monument offering an exceptional five-star hotel experience in the City of Light. The best views, of course, are from the posh Presidential Suites, and for this momentous occasion, the Hotel de Crillon has created an exclusive package. "Tour de France 2006" includes two nights accommodation (Saturday July 22 and Sunday July 23), afternoon tea served in one of the grand Presidential Suites while watching the race on giant screen televisions, American buffet breakfast and access to the Fitness Center. The package rate is from EUR 1,210 for a Superior Room, subject to availability, inclusive of taxes and service. Other room categories are also available.
Our adoration for Eos is hardly a secret. A recent Business Week article, "Eos Airlines, Your Airborne Concierge" applauds the airline for its "business class services with a five-star hotel twist for passengers flying from New York's JFK airport to London's Stansted." The interior is luxurious and spacious, with 48 seats in a jet originally designed for 220 people. The individual passenger seating area is like a suite, with flatbed, worktables, personal entertainment units, and business travel conveniences. And it's a staggering 21 square feet per person. Not too shabby. The airline even offers "turndown service," with high-thread-count seats, cashmere blankets and Bose noise cancellation headphones. To quote Business Week:
While mainstream carriers such as US Airways are making headlines by eliminating packets of peanuts on board, Eos takes the opposite track by promising "restaurant quality, gourmet meals" with aesthetic presentation, along with a high-end wine and beverage selection. Passengers set their own eating pace by selecting either a five-course meal to be eaten at leisure or an "express" meal served at once.
Price? $6,500 for an unrestricted fare.